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Turn Extra Stuffing Into the Bread for Your Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich

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Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Midway through my efforts to turn savory stuffing into French toast bread, I imagine what the person creating the first Scotch egg must have thought. “This is crazy, but it just might be fantastic,” I bet they whispered to themselves in a lilting brogue. Well, they were right, and I’m right this time, too: Reforming the heavily seasoned side-dish staple back into a plank of savory French toast works surprisingly well—and provides the perfect vehicle for the rest of your Thanksgiving leftovers. To make it, all you need is a couple loosely packed cups of stuffing and a fridge full of half-eaten side-dishes. That’s right, my stalwart Thanksgiving-leftover-sandwich-lovers, it’s time to take up the frying pan and forge new bread out of dried, crumbled, rehydrated, and French toastified old bread.

A good piece of sandwich bread needs to be sturdy enough to keep from falling apart, but soft enough to bite. Between these two extremes, it was the falling apart that I needed to figure out when developing this insane recipe. I experimented with three methods. First, I pressed the stuffing into a rectangle, and fried it in a little butter. This worked initially, but after frying the stuffing fell apart. The next version involved mixing the crumbly stuffing with an egg, then pressing it into shape, followed by a pan-fry in butter. Not bad at all—this bread held together well and acquired a crispy outside from the fry. I then tried pressing the stuffing into a rectangle first, allowing it to soak briefly in mixed egg, and then pan frying it, French toast style. This method worked well, but lacked the crispy outer crust. An egg seems to be the clutch ingredient addition, but whether you should mix it in before shaping or soak it after shaping depends on the type of stuffing you’re working with.

Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

If you have dry, crumbly stuffing

Stuffing that is dry, or a mixture that has a lot of additional non-bread ingredients like hunks of sausage or chestnuts, performs better when the egg is added before shaping, forming something of a protein-net to hold all those loose parts together. Scramble one egg for every two cups of stuffing that you intend to use. This mixture will make two pieces of toast.

In a medium bowl, add the egg to the stuffing and toss it around until it’s evenly coated. Pour half of the mixture onto a sheet of wax paper, parchment, or plastic wrap. Fold the edges over the stuffing and use it to push, and compact, it into a toast shape. Melt a teaspoon of butter in a frying pan over medium heat and add the stuffing plank. Fry it for two or three minutes on each side until nicely browned. Repeat with the other half of the mixture.

Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

If you have hydrated, sticky stuffing

Stuffing that is mostly bread product will stick together easily, tricking you with its seeming willingness to hold a bread shape. However, once it hits the heat, the mixture will inevitably dry out in the pan and return it to its original, broken bread form. In this case, adding an egg after shaping creates a binder that holds the material together, lending the stuffing strength and flexibility.

Place a cup of stuffing in the center of a piece of parchment, wax paper, or plastic wrap, and pull the corners around it to form the shape of a rectangle. Scramble an egg in a bowl and pour it onto a shallow dish. Place the stuffing-bread in the egg and, if you can, delicately flip it so the other side gets coated in egg too. If you’re concerned that it will break when you plop it into the bowl, use a pastry brush or a spoon to grab some of the egg and brush it along the top side (or use your fingers, I won’t judge you). Let it soak for two minutes or so before sliding it into a lightly buttered frying pan. Fry until golden brown, about two or three minutes per side.

Once your stuffing French toast has been fried to your liking, let it cool for a few minutes. Stack it high with a little bit of everything you love about Thanksgiving, and enjoy.

 

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